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What Really Is a “Medigap” Plan?

Many people confuse the term “Medicare Supplement Plans” with “Medigap Plans”. It should be noted that Medicare supplement plans fill in some gaps in coverage in original Medicare which is known as “Medigap”.

There are 10 standardized Medigap plans available for senior citizens, each marked with the letters A to N.  And these plans are only available through private insurance companies, and it is not necessary for the insurance companies to sell all the 10 Medicare supplement plans. Every insurance company selling Medicare Supplement policy have to offer at least Plan A and if they offer any other policy than they must also offer either Plan C or Plan F.

Please note that Medicare Supplement plans can be used only to pay Original Medicare expenses. These plans can be used to cover expenses that you may have in Part C Medicare. If you enroll in Medicare Advantage plan, you can keep your Medigap plan as long as you keep paying the monthly fee, but you will not be allowed to enjoy Medigap plans on the cost of Medicare advantage plans. There are few things that you need to keep in mind before going for Medigap plans.

First and foremost, the beneficiaries must be enrolled in Medicare Plan A and Plan B. Secondly, if the beneficiary has a Medicare advantage plan than they can apply for Medicare policy and you will have to leave Medicare Advantage plan before you can enroll in Medigap. These Medigap policies are only able to cover one person. If anyone from your family want to avail then they will have to enroll themselves.

Monthly premiums will have to be paid to private insurance companies in addition to monthly Plan B premium. You are not bound by any insurance company, you can select any insurance company you like that is licensed in your state. Each standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable, even when suffering from health problems. This means that the company cannot cancel Medicare Supplement insurance contracts as long as you pay the premiums. Medicare supplement plans allow you to use any provider that can accept Medicare. Among all the states of America, Arizona is considered as one of the best places to live after retirement. Arizona provides the best Medicare and Medigap help to senior citizens.

There are two specific Medigap plans (Plan k and Plan L) which are capable of covering out of pocket limits, because once your basic health care costs reaches the limit, your Medigap plan will cover 100% of all the expenses for the rest of your year. It is worth mentioning that original Medicare don’t have the ability to include a yearly out of pocket limit. Remember, Medicare supplement plan is meant to work side by side with your original Medicare coverage. You only need to remain enrolled in original Medicare to take the benefits of Medigap.

Although private insurers are required to offer the same benefits for each Medicare plan, these companies can change the costs of premiums they charge for this coverage. So if you are looking for Medigap coverage, you must contact different insurance companies to find a Medicare Supplement plan that is appropriate for your medical and financial needs. Remember that insurance companies use different methods to price their Medigap plans. Pricing method that company uses may affect the amount of premium you pay when you first enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, as well as your long-term costs.

Medigap can be used only by people enrolled in traditional Medicare only. It is not a Government-run program but you can buy private insurance to cover some or most of your expenses in traditional Medicare. Medicare advantage plans consist of variety of private health plans for every type of needs. HMOs and PPOs are the most commonly used among the beneficiaries. Most of the plans include drug prescription coverage at no extra cost. Some plans are capable of covering routine hearing and vision services but not all. By law, all plans have annual limits for out-of-pocket costs.

Another difference from the traditional program is that most plans require you to go to the doctors and hospitals within their network and if you want to go out of the network, you will have to pay extra.

If you enroll in Medicare Advantage health plan, you can’t use a Medigap policy to cover your expenses, and it is illegal to sell insurance Medigap policy if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you want to stay in traditional Medicare, you will need a separate Part D plan to get prescription drug coverage and pay an extra premium for it. A Medigap does not cover drugs outputs of- pocket.

Some states even offer Medigap plans for beneficiaries under 65 years of age who are eligible for Medicare because of disability or under certain conditions. Federal law doesn’t allow states to sell Medicare Supplement insurance for under 65 years, but depending on where you live, some states offer Medigap coverage for beneficiaries under 65 years of age. Every state can have its own eligibility criteria and terms. If you are a Medicare beneficiary under 65 years of age and interested in purchasing a Medicare Supplement insurance, contact your state insurance department to find out if you qualify for Medigap coverage in your state or not.

Select the Best Medicare Supplement Plan for Yourself

Many of us spend a lot of time trying to understanding the difference between Medicare and Medigap plans. Today, you will clearly get to know the difference between these two. This article will also help you to wisely select your plan.

Basically, Medicare supplement plans are also known as Medigap plans or policies and they can cover some of the costs that original Medicare coverage doesn’t include. Originally, the government provides Part  A and Part B of Medicare coverage to all the eligible individuals. However, this Medicare coverage might not fulfill your demands at later stage so you will need to decide at some point whether the traditional coverage is enough for you which is provided by the government or you need some other Medicare supplement plans.
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Medicare and Medigap plans are federal healthcare programs which is designed to fulfill the needs and to help senior citizens during their golden years. According to the law, any senior citizen who is 65+ and currently enrolled in Medicare can apply for a Medigap plan. There are about 10 Medigap plans available to choose from. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), all the Medigap plans have to offer the same coverage plans, regardless of the company which is selling it or where they are located. It means that Plan A and Plan B is exactly the same in all 50 states of America.

In recent years, private Medicare plans have become more popular than the traditional plans. It has been observed that more than 10 million senior citizens has enrolled in the Medicare advantage plans. These plans actually help to combine the physician and hospital services into one package. Before selecting the perfect plan for yourself or your loved one, you need to keep in mind few things.

First of all, if there are no Medicare advantage or supplement plans are available in your region than you will be in traditional Medicare, which is administered by federal government. You can select any doctor who accepts Medicare in the traditional Medicare and you will have to pay deductibles of the cost of care. If you had a Medigap policy, those expenses would have been covered by your Medigap plan. So, a Medigap plan covers a vast variety of treatments which Medicare wouldn’t cover. There are multiple types of Medicare supplement plans.

Most plans such as health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations, manage to control costs. Other like HMOs and PPO, which is based on a network of doctors, so you want to make sure that your doctor and the hospital of your choice are involved in the network. You can also ask about the policy for referrals, In case of a PPO, you may want to know how much you have to pay to see doctors who are not on the network. Private plans fee-for-service provides more choice because they are not allowed to have a network of doctors and hospitals.

Sometimes, Medicare supplement plans have extra benefits like eye exams, dental care and hearing coverage. For many people, this coverage doesn’t seem to be enough, and this is where private insurance, such as Medicare Supplement plans come in. These plans may offer coverage of health services not covered for Part A and Part B. To participate in a Medicare Supplement plan a beneficiary must be enrolled in Part A and Part B, live in the state where it is offered, and generally be over 65 years. But you must make sure you understand each and every point of the Medicare advantage plan you will be selecting.

One benefit of Medigap plans is that Medigap policies are renewable, as long as you pay your monthly fees and your insurance company doesn’t go bankrupt, you cannot be dropped from your plan. Medicare has a small network of doctors, but Medigap provides access to an extensive network of doctors. In short, Medicare is designed for those on a tight budget and if your pocket allows you then you have to go Medigap.

According to the latest research, Medigap plans are usually more expensive than Medicare Advantage plans. Medigap offers a variety of supplemental insurance to Medicare, while Medicare coverage and Medicare Advantage are almost identical. Furthermore, you also need to keep in mind that if you travel a lot or migrate yearly as per job requirements or you live in an area where there are lack of medical facilities, then you must go for a Medigap policy. No doubt, there are other ways to supplement your Medicare coverage but Medigap offers the best flexibility.

With Medigap, you are free to receive care from any hospital and any doctor which accepts Medicare. If you have a need for vision or dental benefits, then you will also have to buy Medicare supplement plans for that which will be covered by your Medigap policies. Now that Medicare Part D is also here, so all Medigap plans which used to offer prescription drugs are being phased out.

Last but not the least, if you have signed up for a Medigap plan but you later realized that it wasn’t right for you, there’s no need to worry because as long as you make that discovery within a month of coverage, you can cancel the coverage for a full refund.

For Arizona residents who are confused about which plan to choose, visit www.azmedicare.info for all the details and help on Arizona Medicare Supplement plans.

Shedding Light On Arizona’s Medigap Policies

In Arizona, medical beneficiaries who are in need of help for paying Medicare expenses must consider enrolling in a Medicare Supplement Plan known as Medigap Plan. It must be noted that Medigap plans are available through private insurance companies, not only in Arizona but in every state across U.S.

Medigap plans generally help with the expenses which are incurred under original Medicare plans which are Plan A and Plan B. Medigap plans are now almost same across all of the United States in terms of both policies and cost. For those of you who are not sure about the number of Medigap plans, just know that there are 10 standardized Medigap plans available in all of the states. The plans are labelled from A to N where Plan A and Plan B are the most basic plans which every state offers under the rule of federal administration.

If you are already enrolled original Medicare Plan A and B, then you are eligible to sign up for Medigap Plans. Not many people know but the best time to buy a Medicare Supplement plan is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period starts as soon as you reach the age of 65 and is also enrolled in Medicare Plan B. Individuals can sign up for any Medigap plans during this time according to the plans available in their state. The important thing to keep in mind is that there are no additional enrollment periods besides each of theirs Medigap Open Enrollment Period.

In Arizona and across all of the United States, Medigap plans doesn’t include prescription drug coverage, so you have to enroll in a Part D plan for prescription for separate Medicare to cover the cost of medicines or drugs. Prescription drug plans for Medicare Part D in Arizona are available through private insurance companies.
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It has been observed through the survey that Arizona is the most famous destination to retire. Surprisingly, above a million residents of Arizona are dependent on the Medicare for their main source of health insurance.While no revolutionary changes in Medicare supplement insurance is scheduled for 2016, there are some things to keep in mind which may affect the safety and availability of certain plans.

Here is the possible increase in premiums and Part B deductible. For example, Plan C, Plan F, and high deductible Plan F covers Part B deductible, so if the increased rates for these popular supplements may also increase. In Arizona, all the Medicare Supplement Plans must conform to the standards set by the Medicare Organization. Supplement standards include names from A to N. Each supplement offers basic benefits like coinsurance and blood donations. The only thing to remember is that every supplement is identical from one or another insurance company. In order to determine rates, you must compare different insurers providing Medigap plans however there should not be a big difference because of the Arizona Medigap Policy.  It is important that you familiarize yourself before  with the Medigap plan as well as each and every plan before you make any purchase. 

Supplement Plan F is the most comprehensive among the 10 other plans, covering almost 100 % of Medicare related costs. But even for Medicare Supplement Plan F recipients in Arizona can still incur some out – of -pocket expenses such as Medicare Part B premium.

As soon as you reach the age of 65, you need only a phone call to buy Medigap policy and get excellent coverage without question. And if you buy a policy in the first six months of enrolling in Medicare, you do not have to answer questions about your health. Do not worry if your doctors are not in the network, because you will be covered if you see any doctor who accepts Medicare.

Many people don’t realize the fact that how much they will be spending if they will be selecting the plan which covers the entire Medigap plans. There are total of 10 Medigap plans and each one has its own benefit. The four most comprehensive plans are C, D, F and G which account for more than 60% of all the Medigap sales according to Kaiser Family Foundation research. Plan F, the most expensive among all of them and covers every Medicare gap represents 40% of all policies sold. If your health is good than you must consider a plan which is not much comprehensive for e.g. Plan N and L are good choices because they will save you around $200 to $400 a year.

Medicare and Medigap benefits are identical in all 50 states, however policies and pricing rules may differ (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have their own standardized plans). If you know the rules in your state,  this may save you money.  You can choose when to upgrade an existing plan to switch to another insurer or drop your current Medicare plan during the annual open enrollment to change Medigap policies.

Most of the people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65, although some beneficiaries can get Medicare even before if they have some kind of disability. You will automatically get Medicare as soon as you turn 65 if you are already receiving Social Security benefits. Otherwise, you will have to enroll in Medicare during the enrollment period.

There are also many private Medicare options available if you are a Medicare beneficiary in Arizona. Medicare coverage like drug prescription and supplemental coverage are only available through private insurance companies. Your private Medicare options will depend on where you live and the plans available in your area. We hope you found this article helpful as we shed light on Arizona’s Medigap policies. If you are an Arizona resident, feel free to contact www.azmedicare.info for further details. 

Arizona Medicare Advantage Plans

According to the latest statistics, a huge amount amount of retired people find Arizona the best place to live because of the warm climate and medical facilities. Millions of residents are depending upon the Medicare for health and life insurances. Since basic Medicare plan doesn’t cover everything, people may want Medigap or Medicare advantage plans.

Arizona is only state which has the most amount of Medicare recipients. Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa are the largest cities of Arizona and there are about 15% Arizonians who are 65 years and up receiving Medicare and about 14% Arizonians receiving Medicare. Almost all seniors are dependent on Medicare benefits for health insurance. Among all the senior citizens, approximately 30% will choose the Arizona Medicare Advantage plans. The other 25% will choose Medigap plan instead. The remainder may have a different public or private coverage, but most do not just rely on Part A and Part B Medicare, because they want to ensure that health care costs remain affordable.

Anyone choosing Medicare insurance or any other type of health insurance needs to strike a balance between premiums and benefits. Medicare Advantage plans for Arizona are attractive because many still have a very low or even $ 0 premium surcharge. Medicare Advantage plans also include Part D drug coverage at no additional cost.

On the other hand, these cheaper plans have many co-pays and deductibles. Also many recipients operate on a tight budget during retirement. Everyone has their own plans for retirement, for some people it makes more sense to pay a hefty amount for the Medigap insurances that covers all the health expenses that are not originally covered in Medicare.

Interestingly, Medicare supplement insurance plans C and F are usually the most expensive but they are also the most popular among the people who purchase supplements.

As a beneficiary, you are free to enroll in any Medicare Advantage plans you like. All the plans offer health benefits under Part A and Part B both. Many Medicare Advantage plans also cover prescription drug coverage (Part D). Additional benefits can also be utilized by paying an extra cost on your Medicare advantage plan. You may qualify for these plans if you are entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
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There are many private companies who offer Medigap plans for senior citizens. People can easily sign up for one of several Medicare advantage plans if they want to receive the most of their medical insurance coverage company. Keep in mind that if you are going for Medicare advantage plan, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.

Secondly, you must be living in the area where they have Medicare network providing advantage plans. Most Medicare Advantage plans have prescription drug coverage built into the plan. This is not always the case, because it may be what is called stand-alone Part D plan.

Many people join the Medicare advantage plan as soon they turn 65. This process is called open enrollment period when you have only six months to enroll in the plan. After registration, if you want to change your plan, you’ll have to wait until the annual election period, which occurs every year from October 15 to December 7th. During this time, you can switch plans or return to original Medicare options, for this year you will not be able to move out of your plan, or join a new Medicare Advantage plans for 2016 outside of that enrollment period.

Type of Medicare Advantage Plans:

Below listed are some of the main advantage plans available across the United States:

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO):
Health Maintenance Organization plan only allows  you to select certain doctors and hospitals within the network. Unless it’s an emergency, only then can you go to those approved locations. If you plan to visit someone outside your network, it will not be covered under your plan and it will be charged separately.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO):
Preferred Provider Organization plan allows you to save your money by selecting the specified doctor and healthcare provider or hospital. You will be required to pay a bit more if you wish to go to those that are not on the list of approved providers.

 Private Fee for Service (PPFS):
Private Fee for Service a plan which does not require you to go to an approved list of providers. Instead, you will have the choice to select any provider you want. The only drawback is that there are very few people who accepts the PPFS plan.

Special Needs Plans (SNPs):
Special Needs Plans are basically designed for the people who have some specific and severe disabilities and diseases. The list of accepted providers is made on the needs of the subscriber and who will be able to fulfill their needs.

Every Medicare advantage plan is created to operate on a network. It means that all health care providers will be located within a specific area. You are required to live in the local area if you want to get covered by a certain plan. If you move to a new area, you may change your provider or insurance plan, depending on where you moved and what type of network is used.

Medicare’s Star Ratings May Change Medicare Advantage Plans

Under new federal regulations, Medicare Advantage (MA) providers that earn a 4- or 5-star ranking from the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services will receive cash bonuses from the federal government. Star ratings are based on 33 independent criteria for health care plans and an additional 19 criteria for prescription drug plans (PDP).

This approach is likely to have an impact on all MA plans. Currently, the government pays MA providers about $8,800 per beneficiary, about $1,150 more per person, than it spends on traditional Medicare coverage. Although they are not required to, MA providers often use the extra funds to offer additional covered services, reduce premiums, co-pays or deductibles. These extras tend to make the MA plans more attractive to some seniors.

Beginning in 2011, however, this payment disparity will be eliminated. Instead, the extra cash will be used to fund the cash bonuses for MA plan providers. This will likely translate into some significant changes in the services provided under MA plans, and may also increase beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses. MA plan providers will likely have to raise monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles, or eliminate services currently being provided.

Initially, the star rating was designed to help seniors find high-quality plans from among potentially dozens of MA plan choices. Studies conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, indicate that about three-fourths of seniors choose a MA plan that is rated at 3.5 stars or less; and that only about 15 percent of MA enrollees live in a service area where a plan awarded four or more stars is available. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis showed that the cost of a Medicare Advantage plan is a beneficiary’s primary consideration rather than a plan’s overall service rating.

The new rules will grant MA plans that receive four or five stars a bonus of 1.5% on top of their regular Medicare payments, beginning in 2012. The bonus amount will rise to 5% by 2014. Bonuses tied to a provider’s star rating have raised a few questions, since many plans currently approved by Medicare, including new plans and small plans, have no star ratings.

2011 Medicare Part D Choices Require Research Says Firm

Avalere Health, a healthcare policy research firm, says that Medicare beneficiaries must do some research before making their Medicare Part D plan election for 2011.  The company says that significant changes await some enrollees, even if they elect the same Part D provider they had in 2010.  According to the company, many Medicare Part D providers have changed their formularies and co-pay costs, meaning that some drugs that were covered in 2010 may not be covered in 2011.

One of the more noticeable changes may be in the way providers structure co-pays.  According to Avalere Health, more providers are structuring their Part D plans with five or more tiers, which will allow providers to charge different co-pays for drugs in different plan tiers.  The number of tiered plans has risen from 27% in 2009 to more than 40% in 2011.  Some plans that already use tiered payment structures have two different tiers for generic drugs.

Another major change for consumers will be in their choice of pharmacy.  Some Part D plans will use preferred pharmacies and will base consumer out-of-pocket costs not only on the prescribed drugs, but also on whether or not prescriptions are filled at a participating pharmacy.  Consumers who use non-plan pharmacies may find themselves paying up to 50% more in out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

More Part D plans are also using pre-authorization and limiting the quantity of medications that can be dispensed at one time, creating an overall higher cost to the consumer for pharmaceuticals in the form of additional co-pays.  The end result of these changes is a net decrease in the number of drugs covered by the top ten prescription drug plans (PDP) for 2011.

Among the top ten plans, the 2011 formularies cover between 50% and 87% of prescription drugs.  To illustrate the potential impact of changes among drug plans, Avalere’s analysis shows that while the AARP’s 2011 formulary covers four popular rheumatoid arthritis drugs with a 33% cost-share, Humana-WalMart’s 2011 formulary covers only two of the four drugs and has a 35% cost-share on the covered formulations. In addition, the cost-share at non-preferred pharmacies is significantly higher.  Enrollees must pay out-of-pocket for drugs not covered by their provider’s formulary. More information about the Avalere Health study can be found at AvalereHealth.net.

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